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What Causes Dry Brittle Nails

Dr. Kline & Green Team
19 December 2019
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If you’re wondering what causes nails to become brittle, then there are a few reasons why this can occur. One of the main causes for brittle nails is that they have become too dry. The change of seasons to colder weather, or even as a side effect of the aging process are common causes for poor nail health and dry nails.

The way we look after our nails can also have an impact on their health. Excessive manicures and pedicures can cause nail issues, as can certain types of nail polish remover, especially if used frequently. It’s common for people to have a skin care routine such as treating dry skin, but the condition of the nails is often overlooked. However, nail care is equally important so if you spot nail changes then you should examine what may be the cause.

General health issues and medical conditions can also be a contributing factor to dry, brittle nails. Other health conditions such as nail fungus can also cause nail abnormalities. If you suspect that your health is an issue, then you should seek the advice of a doctor or dermatologist who can help identify the underlying cause of your nail problem.

Work related factors where nails are frequently submerged in water, such as when washing dishes, can cause the nail to become soft, and over time brittle. Working with or using harsh chemicals can also cause nail weakness. Generally, the nail condition can be related directly to how much exposure to this type of activity your nails are subjected to. If you suspect this is a cause of the problem then you should wear gloves to help reduce the likelihood of damage.

Brittle nails are a sign of an underlying nail problem. Issues such as brittleness can lead to splitting nails which can take a while to heal since the nail itself must grow out.

How do I fix brittle nails?

One of the questions that is often asked is how do you fix or strengthen brittle nails? There are a range of things to help improve your fingernail and toenail health. We’ve already mentioned that you should minimize exposure to water (use rubber gloves) but ensuring that your diet is in good order can also help. Checking to see if you are getting the proper nutrients in your diet can help your nail health. A vitamin deficiency can be one of the causes of weak, brittle nails. If you suspect this might be the case then seek medical advice – your doctor may recommend a blood test.

We discussed how chemicals in nail polish can lead to nail issues. So, if you are a regular nail polish user then cutting back on your use of harmful products for a while can give your nails a welcome break and help maintain healthy nails. The same goes for manicures and pedicures – taking a break from your normal routine can help your nails recover.


For individuals who have problems with their nail health or have damaged cuticles, specialist moisturizers such as our Hydrate product range can help. If your brittle nails are caused by other issues such as nail fungus, then we recommend using our Clear + Restore® product which can be used to aid in the overall nail condition. Clear + Restore® can also help with issues such as weak nails, which are more susceptible to damage and infection.

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